The Many Avatars Of India’s Humble One Rupee
Indian rupee coins are displayed for a photograph (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg News)  

The Many Avatars Of India’s Humble One Rupee

India’s one rupee note is getting a makeover. Almost as if in time for the upcoming spring-summer 2020 season!

In a pastel pink and pistachio colour scheme, the latest avatar of the one rupee with multi-tonal watermarks went into circulation from Feb. 7, 2020, said a notification from the government. The note will be rectangular with dimensions of 9.7X6.3 centimeters. The watermarks will include the Ashok Pillar, the numeral 1 and the word Bharat written in Devnagiri.

The One Rupee’s Journey Since Independence

The humble one rupee has been on a long winding journey over the years. It transitioned from colonial times to independent India and morphed into different shapes and sizes.

Right after independence, between 1947-50, India retained the monetary system and the currency and coinage of the colonial era. At the time, one rupee was made up of 16 annas or 192 pies.

In 1949, the independent Government of India brought out its first design of the one rupee note.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

In 1950, on the 15th of August, the central bank introduced the first coinage of the Republic of India. While the monetary system continued to remain largely unchanged, the new series, made of nickel, introduced new symbols, indicating a shift in focus to progress and prosperity.

In 1955, India adopted a metric system for coinage. Though the rupee remained unchanged, it was now divided into 100 ‘naya paisa’.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

In 1965 and then again in 1984, the rupee coin saw small changes in metal and weight.

The one rupee note also saw a reduction in size. The new version was also issued in honour of Mahatma Gandhi, to mark his birth centenary.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

The 1980s saw a new set of notes with emphasis on science and technology. The one rupee note motif was switched to an oil rig, denoting progress.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

While nickel was first replaced by alumnium and then steel for other denominations, the one rupee’s stainless steel version was introduced in 1992 on account of the cost-benefit considerations.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

At the beginning of the 21st century, the increase in demand for coins led to the introduction of the new series with themes of unity in diversity and nritya (dance) mudras.

The Many Avatars Of India’s Humble One Rupee

In 2011, the design was changed once again, this time to incorporated the new rupee symbol. For those who have forgotten, the symbol was chosen through a competition. It was designed by D. Udaya Kumar, a professor in the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

For a few years, the one rupee notes were hard to come by. Then, in 2015, they were reintroduced.

Source: Reserve Bank of India

We now await the latest version of the India’s one rupee.

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